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Identity crisis TV star Siobhan Hewlett says she feels Irish but 'if locals see me as an English girl, so be it'

"My grandmother, God rest her soul, wouldn't let me read at my grandfather's funeral because she said I sounded too English"

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Siobhán Hewlett

Siobhán Hewlett

Siobhán Hewlett

On the face of it, Siobhán Kathleen Mary Hewlett could not be any more Irish, and yet all is not as it seems.

While all of Hewlett's heritage is embedded in an Irish family with acting genes, the actress who starred alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock sounds more than a little English and that has caused plenty of confusion during her career.

It was while filming for an Irish audience that one of the more confusing episodes occurred, as the director was concerned after his first encounter with the London-born Hewlett.

"I did an advert in Ireland about five years ago and I got the job after auditioning in my Irish accent," she tells Magazine+ from her home in Lahinch.

"Then I turned up for the shoot and the director was confused when I greeted him in my English accent.

"He asked me whether I was Siobhán Hewlett, the Irish actress and seemed very worried the wrong person had turned up.

"Things got a little strange when he then asked me whether I could speak in my Irish accent at all points around the set to avoid any confusion.

"So I felt like a complete fraud for the rest of the shoot.

"All the other actors knew I had an English accent, but it is part of the fun of being what some people would call a 'plastic Paddy'."

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Siobhán relaxing in Lahinch, Co Clare, where she now lives

Siobhán relaxing in Lahinch, Co Clare, where she now lives

Siobhán relaxing in Lahinch, Co Clare, where she now lives

Despite showing pride in her Irish heritage, Hewlett admits her Englishness has caused her some problems very close to home.

She says: "I have an interesting family history and because I spent so much time in Ireland when I was growing up, this has always felt like home.

"Despite that, I have encountered what I can only describe as racism in my time and some of it from my own family.

"My grandmother, God rest her soul, wouldn't let me read at my grandfather's funeral because she said I sounded too English.

"We all understand it. The English did terrible things to the Irish for hundreds of years, but I would like to think we can all try to move on now.

"By the way, I read at my grandmother's funeral instead in the end, so it all worked out and now I have moved home to Ireland.

"Living in Lahinch now is just incredible. It's such a beautiful place and if the locals here see me as the English girl, then so be it."

Hewlett has kept herself busy during a year that has seen so many actors have their work cancelled, with her appearance in the prime time ITV show McDonald & Dodds coupled with a role in fantasy movie, The Show, starring Tom Burke.

"Looking back to this time last year, I had prepared myself for not acting for a year and freaked out," she admits. "How was I going to support myself? It was terrifying and so many people were in the same position.

"I manicured my mother's garden to perfection and drank too much whiskey before I got a wonderful role in a film called The Lost Girls, alongside Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave.

"Then I did McDonald & Dodds for ITV and now my movie Country of Hotels is coming out, so I have managed to do more work than a lot of people during the pandemic."

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Siobhán with fellow Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch

Siobhán with fellow Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch

Siobhán with fellow Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch

Country of Hotels tells the stories of the desperate souls who pass through the doors of 508, a room on the fifth floor of an anonymous, decaying hotel.

Viewers are taken on a surreal and blackly comic journey down its lonely corridors and behind its out-dated furnishings and stained surfaces.

While the story delves into the everturning carousel of haunted lives who check in and out of the establishment.

Adulterers, lonely businessmen, and hustlers grapple with their demons while prying, occasionally sinister hotel staff always seems to be within earshot.

"We have all spent a lot of time in hotels and it has always crossed my mind who has been in here last, what were they up to on this bed," continues Siobhán.

"It's a bit weird. If you spend a lot of time in hotels, they all blend into one and you tend to lose perspective of where you are.

"So the idea behind this film will resonate with all of us and I hope the audience enjoys it."

If the movie is half as interesting as the tale its star has to tell about her own colourful life, it will certainly be a must-watch.

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